Simon Whitfield is the target of a claim by Victoria triathlon coach Patrick Kelly.

Victoria’s Simon Whitfield under fire for 2012 comments

Triathlon coach Patrick Kelly seeks compensation for reputation damage

Simon Whitfield has been praised for his passionate expression on Twitter. But a civil suit filed this week is suggesting he went to far in targeting Paula Findlay’s coach Patrick Kelly following her disappointing result, finishing dead last in the women’s triathlon of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Now Whitfield is the target.

The retired athlete and Fairfield resident in Victoria and is the defendant in a notice of civil claim filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Aug. 1, by triathlon coach Patrick Kelly.

As well as coaching Canada’s elites, such as Findlay, Kelly was best known in Greater Victoria as the National Triathlon Centre program coordinator for most of the last decade. The NTC was based out of Saanich Commonwealth Place, where Kelly coached dozens of up-and-coming junior triathletes (16 to 23), including 2016 Olympic hopefuls Kirsten Sweetland (25) and Matt Sharpe (23) of Saanich, who recently represented Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Kelly now coaches in Hong Kong with the Hong Kong Sports Institute but says in the claim that his reputation within the international triathlon community has been damaged by Whitfield’s attacking comments. They came in a specific tweet on Aug. 4, 2012, followed by additional comments overheard among journalists that day, and then spoken in a media session the next day.

Here’s an excerpt of Whitfield’s comments in the claim, which remain unproven.

“Patrick Kelly endorsed a rushed recovery plan for Paula Findlay … Over and over and over again, they just kept driving the car into a brick wall, and in the end, they all finally said, ‘She’s difficult to work with,’ and they all jumped ship. No, you should have stood up and said, ‘We failed.’”

Findlay was a medal favourite in London due to her success in the ITU World Cup series, though the coaching relationship ended in the weeks prior to the London Games.

Whitfield, a two-time Olympic medalist and Canada’s flag bearer in London, tweeted in earnest during the women’s London Games triathlon.

While most of his tweets reported on the nature of the race’s progression, his frustration came through when it was clear Findlay’s chances at a podium finish had slipped away.

As of Thursday, Aug. 7, the following tweet remained on Whitfield’s wall, though it has been requested within Kelly’s claim, launched from North Vancouver, to remove such defaming tweets from that day, Aug. 4, 2012:

“gutted 2c Paula so upset. There are some people who need to be held accountable here, total incompetence before they jumped ship. #shameful”

Though it comes two years late, it’s not the only story of controversy amongst South Island athletes at the London Games. At the time, there was an undeniable rift among the Elk Lake rowers, home of Canada’s men’s program and the Patricia Obee and Lindsay Jennerich boat, which eventually ended with the dismissal of maligned and loved (depending on the camp), and highly successful coach Mike Spracklen following the games.

Spracklen’s coaching styles are said to have divided the men’s rowing program into two camps,  despite the men’s heavyweight eight boat winning silver, it’s second straight medal following gold in 2008.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Turf replacement installed at Oak Bay High

New Astroturf will be ready for school, sports still cancelled

Driver loses control, crashes into Saanich furniture store

Crash at Lazyboy Furniture store Wednesday afternoon

Mayor steps down from committee overseeing fate of Sidney’s Beacon Wharf

Cliff McNeil-Smith cites work commitments, schedule behind decision

Downtown Victoria’s on-street parking time limits, rates back in effect

City reinstates restrictions, extends reduced rates for parkades and other metered areas

Teachers need more time to prepare for fall reopening, says Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association

GVTA president says class schedules need to be reworked for cohort model

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Arson suspected in several wildfires lit near Kootenay town

RCMP making progress in arson investigation of Marsh Creek fires

Three screening officers at Vancouver airport test positive for COVID-19

The public is not believed to be at risk of exposure

VIDEO: B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote with head stuck in jar

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

‘Do our lives count for less?’: COVID-19 exposes cracks in disability aid

In July, Parliament approved a $600 payment for people with disabilities facing additional expenses during COVID-19

Agreement between province, BC Hydro, First Nation, ends legal fight over Site C

B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance

Most Read